Rugged mountain ranges, lush valleys, unspoiled coastlines, UNESCO-listed beaches, medieval castles and old-fashioned market towns - these are just a few things to expect when you travel to Wales. Wales often doesn’t get as much attention as its Celtic cousins of Ireland and Scotland. However, the country offers a diverse landscape, interesting history and rich culture. It’s definitely worth exploring!
Our Wales travel guide is packed with the best Wales travel tips and everything that you need to know to visit Wales!
While part of the UK, Wales is very much its own country. It has its own culture, its own language and its own natural landscapes. Wales sits on the mountainous western peninsula of the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to the east and the Republic of Ireland to the west across the Irish Sea.
In terms of weather, Wales tends to be wetter than England with fewer hours of sunshine. Conditions in the upland areas of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons can be changeable at all times of the year - with sudden downpours being a common occurrence.
A large portion of the country is still very rural - with more than 10 million sheep scattered across the country (overtaking the population of 3 million by a long way!). Many parts of Wales still very much have a ‘old Britain’ feel to it.
Harbouring the spirit of the iconic red dragon found on the country’s flag, the Welsh people are welcoming and passionate. A fiercely proud nation that are quick to greet you with a smile and show off their beautiful country. Wales loves being Wales, and that enthusiasm is infectious to all travelers to Wales. The Welsh work hard to protect their culture from their strong neighbour, England, something apparent in the widespread use of the Welsh language.
The currency in Wales is the Pound Sterling (£), this is used across the UK with each country having their own notes. The Pound Sterling is made up of 100 pence. Coins come in 1 pence, 2 pence, 5 pence, 10 pence, 20 pence, 50 pence, £1 and £2 denominations and notes in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations.
Small towns and villages are scattered throughout the country, most still upholding age-old traditions and that comforting small-town lifestyle. There are nine major cities and towns in Wales: Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Caernarfon, Conwy, Hay-on-Wye, Llandudno, Tenby and Wrexham.
Getting around Wales is fairly easy with two main train lines running across the towns of the north and the south. Long distance buses are also available while driving your own car offers more flexibility while traveling through the scenic routes and winding roads.
Best places to visit in Wales
The oldest rocks in the world, over 400 castles and a village from the Iron Age are just three of many Wales tourist attractions worth visiting. Wales can largely be split into three regions: South Wales, Mid-Wales and North Wales. South Wales is the most heavily populated part of Wales, and by far the most anglicized. Mid-Wales is the least well-known part of Wales, with the strongest Welsh culture. North Wales is known for its outdoor adventures, beautiful beaches, large mountains and fascinating ancient culture and heritage.
Places to visit in South Wales - include the cities of Cardiff (the upbeat capital of Wales) and Swansea, the Valleys and the beautiful Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire coasts. Other South Wales attractions include the Wye Valley, The Gower Peninsula and Carmarthenshire.
Places to visit in Mid-Wales - Tinclude the Brecon Beacons National Park, the Black Mountains, the tiny city of Brecon, the old spa towns of Radnorshire and ancient churches in peculiar old towns. The popular Cambrian coast stretches from Cardigan to Harlech, with wide sandy beaches between the high cliffs and small coves.
Places to visit in north Wales - includes the massive Snowdonia National Park, which extends north and south, beyond the bounds of Snowdonia itself. Llangollen, the embodiment of a Welsh town, is a great base for a variety of ruins, rides and rambles, as well as the venue for the colourful International Eisteddfod festival. Other attractions in the north include the island of Anglesey, The Llyn and the north coast.
The most popular and best places to visit in Wales include the Welsh Borders, Cardiff, North Wales, Snowdonia and South Wales. These spots are almost always included on Wales travel itineraries.
Things to do in Wales
From exploring the natural dramatic scenery to walking the country’s beaches and exploring the historic past, there are plenty of fun things to do in Wales for all travelers.
With the many mountain ranges, hiking in Wales is a popular activity. Brecon Beacons, a stunning South Wales mountain range is a popular spot while summiting the highest peak in the country, Mount Snowdon, is on many bucket lists. There are also loads of lovely walks to enjoy in Wales. You’ll find great walking trails at St David’s Head, Cwm Llwch, Cwm Idwal, Dinas Oleu (Barmouth) and Worm’s Head.
Even if you’re not into hiking, it’s well worth visiting a few of the national parks in Wales even just for the views and scenery. Mount Snowdon situated in Snowdonia National Park is the UK’s highest peak outside the Scottish Highlands. Hop onto the Snowdon Mountain Railway to experience one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world. The train takes you to the summit of Snowdon, offering the most spectacular views along the way. Note that the train is closed during the winter months.
For something a little bit different, visit the town with the longest name in Britain: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Understandably, the town is often referred to as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG. The name is the main attraction of the town and signposts of the town’s name can be found at the historic train station.
For those interested in the country’s history, make sure to include a visit to some of the National Museums. Many of the Welsh museums are dedicated to telling the stories of the shoreline communities and the industrial heritage of Wales. These include the National Waterfront Museum, the National Slate Museum, the National Wool Museum and the Big Pit National Coal Museum.
Other Wales attractions to include on your to-do list is the many castles worth visiting. From Norman castles to the decadent Victorian architecture, Wales is home to some of the best castles in the UK. These include Conwy Castle, Cardiff Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Caerphilly Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Pembroke Castle, Castell Coch and Harlech Castle.
Best time to visit Wales
Weather-wise, summer is the best time to visit Wales with the peak Wales holiday season being late July and August. Note that the national parks and coastal areas tend to hike up their prices during these busy periods.
Spring is also a beautiful time to visit, with warm and dry days along with fewer tourists and lower prices. Autumn is extremely picturesque, with the glorious red and orange foliage looking particularly beautiful around the Welsh castles and winding rural roads - it does however, tend to be quite wet during this time with October being the rainiest month of the year.
Winter in Wales sees Snowdonia covered in blankets of glorious white snow, making it a lovely time to visit the mountains of Wales. The Wales countryside also turns into a magical destination during Christmas time. The temperatures do drop, so be prepared for the cold!
Food in Wales
While travelers don’t usually visit Wales purely for its cuisine, the quality of produce is generally quite high. Local ingredients along with organic produce are becoming a major focus in Welsh restaurants.
The coastline offers up a variety of fresh fish and shellfish, including mullet, brown shrimp, cockles, crab and smoked fish.
Popular Welsh Food:
A few popular foods to try in Wales include:
Roast lamb - Wales is known for its high quality lamb.
Cawl - lamb broth.
Laverbread - bread made with seaweed and oatmeal.
Bara brith - similar to a fruitcake.
Welsh rarebit - A melted cheese dish on toasted bread.
Welsh oggie - a large pastie filled with meat and vegetables.
Welsh cakes - similar to a scone, usually containing dried fruit and sometimes jam.
Wales travel tips
England is a diverse and exhilarating destination to explore. There are however a few tips for those looking to travel to Wales.
Everyone in Wales speaks English, but a quarter of the population also speaks Welsh.
Wales is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates. However, it is always advisable to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
The plugs in Wales are type G. The current is 240v AC. North American appliances will need a transformer and adaptor; those from Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand only need an adaptor.
Nationals from the United States, Canada or Australia don’t need to apply for a tourist visa before traveling to the UK. Visas, usually up to six months, will be granted on entry. EU nationals do not need a visa, while many other nationals will need to apply for a visa before entering into the UK.
Make sure you are prepared for the rain. Even if you aren’t going in the high rainy season, it is likely that you will have at least one rainy day.
Ready to visit Wales? Join us on our
England & Wales woman-only tour including some of the best places to visit in Wales, including a panoramic tour of Cardiff, Cardiff Castle banquet, a tour of Brecon Beacon, a Snowdonia steam train ride and a visit to Caernarfon.